One of the earlier “smarter water” projects we’ve been working on at IBM has been in our own backyard – the Hudson River project with New York’s Beacon Institute. Today, The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s newsletter, Waterwire, published a nice feature on IBM’s water efforts, as well as details on work underway in the Hudson:
Information technology is not necessarily an intuitive match with environmental concerns, but recent breakthroughs by corporate giant IBM are affecting water management in positive ways around the world. The goal, said Sharon Nunes, Vice President of IBM’s Big Green Innovations, which deals with advanced water management, is to provide agencies, utilities and private industry with precise data. A fast, accurate, local weather prediction, for example, can help clients — water management-related or otherwise — prepare for sudden storms. “Information like this helps to minimize business costs and work flow is more efficient,” Ms. Nunes said.
Last year, IBM established a Centre of Excellence for Water Management in Amsterdam where the focus is on flood management and levee systems, and in Dublin where a project called SmartBay monitors data about tidal flow, wave heights, temperature and phyloplankton via sensors placed throughout Galway Bay. Locally, IBM joined with New York’s Beacon Institute in 2007 to launch a monitoring network in the Hudson River that records information about oxygen content, temperature and wind speed, and assesses how these affect aquatic life. IBM sends scientists to Beacon, to mentor local college students and to teach the teachers. “Eventually the plan is to place sensors along entire length of the Hudson, down to the Harbor and up to Troy,” said Ms. Nunes. (A Hudson River sensor is pictured in the photo at right.)
“The Hudson River is the pilot river system for this groundbreaking initiative, and the 12 million people who live within its watershed will be the first beneficiaries of our work,” said John Cronin, Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Beacon Institute when the project was announced in 2007. “This new way of observing, understanding and predicting how large river and estuary ecosystems work ultimately will allow us to translate that knowledge into better policy, management and education for the Hudson River and for rivers and estuaries worldwide.”